An estimated 120,000 irregular migrant children live in the UK. A large majority of these are either born in the country or migrated here at an early age. These children were brought up in the UK, educated in British schools and many speak English as their main language. Successive British governments have provided irregular migrant children with some entitlement to public services. However, contradictory and frequently changing rules and regulations, cuts to public spending, and broader reforms in the provision of public services mean that even when legal provisions still exist, access to public services has become limited in practice, which can lead to destitution and social exclusion. The risk of producing a generation of disenfranchised youth, de facto non-deportable and yet excluded from citizenship, should not be underestimated and demands sensible and pragmatic solutions.
This briefing is based on 'No way out, no way in: Irregular migrant children and families in the UK' by Nando Sigona and Vanessa Hughes (2012). The COMPAS study was funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
Speaker: Nando Sigona, Senior Research Officer, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford and COMPAS Research Associate